Thursday, March 5, 2015

Cutting Teeth

"I never intended for that to happen."
"Oh my gosh, that's my mistake. I didn't realize it would play out that way."
"I'm sorry, I just didn't see that coming."

Honest mistakes. They happen to all of us. I hate to admit it when I mess up, but part of being an effective leader is owning up to your mistakes (or your organization's mistakes even if they weren't your fault.) Plus, it is essential that you make sure the appropriate processes are put in place to avoid the chance that a similar mistake will happen in the future.

Is that a guarantee? No. Do good leaders push hard to do their best? You're damn right they do.

Experience Does Not Equal Effective
I've worked with many leaders over the years, and some had years of experience with impressive job titles and they often stumbled so routinely I wondered how in the world they ever landed such a good gig. Others have been new to their leadership roles but had such insight that I did everything I could to raise the organization's awareness about their skill set.

Most of the time it is the group with the fancy titles that makes the most important decisions. Sadly, those same folks have often risen through the ranks because they have excelled as a SME (Silo Matter Expert.)

Their ability to see beyond their direct span of control is nonexistent. They've spent so much time in their own world that they haven't taken the time to learn what it means to be an organizational leader. Rather, they are simply a really good middle manager.

Start Chewing
What eventually happens to those leaders that are going to rise above their SME status and actually lead the company comes when they focus on areas outside their little organizational chart.

I'm not suggesting they interfere with other leaders operations. I would submit that the most effective leaders have taken the time to learn about all of the operations of the enterprise so they can effectively contribute organizationally.

How About You
Do you have leaders in your organization that despite their job title are clearly still cutting their teeth on the role of organization-wide leader? How are you helping them? It can be tricky. But if they are going to succeed instead of reinforcing their own limited world view with an endless series of self-talk (typically done out loud in meetings) then it's time to step in.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Monday, March 2, 2015

The Idiot Box

Every place I've worked has tried new things. The brain-trust would get all fired up (including me) about new ways to organize work, communicate, and launch innovative ideas to differentiate the organization from the competition.

Every single one.

Think Outside the (Corporate) Box
I have a very different perspective on corporate life now. My job is to help companies take their brand to a world-class level which results in attracting talent that is also world-class. That approach requires the innovative thinking I used to talk about... a lot.

The challenge with innovative thinking inside the company is that there will forever be a set of norms, political realities, and tolerance for true candor. I'm not saying it's right or wrong, I'm simply telling you it's there.

Don't tell me your shop is different. It's not.

You're Stuck in Your (Corporate) Box
Are you upset with me yet? Consider this...

How many disruptive leaders have you retained over the last five years? Did you identify them as someone who was pushing new boundaries and challenging traditional norms (that you had convinced yourself were the 'proper' way to be a member of 'your' company?) Or, were they labeled as not being a 'team-player' and sent on their way (or worse, felt they needed to leave) because they were no longer a 'good fit'?


It's Lonely Outside the (Corporate) Box 
Here's the tough part for those of us that have dared to step outside the norms and (barely) lived to tell about it. 

It's lonely as hell. 

The obvious challenge is that while we may see the changes that have to be made, we must also balance the pace of change with the reality of the corporate culture.

If we push too hard one day, it may be a bit awkward when we're sitting next to our colleagues ten more times the same week in an endless stream of (productive?) meetings.

How About You
You're not an idiot. You know the perils of finding your voice and pushing the boundaries and norms of your organization. You know you will be criticized, questioned, and challenged in a very serious way. You also know you're doing the right thing.

Leverage your network and trusted external resources for support. Sometimes those that can help you break through the internal self-talk that keeps your company safely it in it's little box, are not on this inside at all. Does your organization believe it's own press releases about being innovative and a good place to work? Who exactly is saying that? I bet it's not you anymore.

I'd love to here from you.

No Excuses.


Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Don't Spare Anyone

I've worked for organizations that had 40,0000 employees, and I've worked for some that had less than 100. They had different business models, types of employees, and were in very different industries. They had charismatic leaders, and others that struggled on such an epic scale that I helped a number of them to the door.

Despite all of the differences and complexities, every organization shared something very powerful in common.

Each of them struggled with internal communication.

How Is This Possible
We're living in a time when communicating with other people has never been easier. Recently I was carrying on simultaneous conversations with colleagues in the UK and Australia using twitter. Seriously, it was so simple. Gosh, I love twitter.

So if the list of communication tools out there is so abundant, easy to use, and in many cases free, how is it that the story hasn't changed over the years when I speak with employees? --> "we need to improve internal communication."

Tools Don't Matter
We have email, staff meetings, yammer, lync, skype, intranets, social media pages, one-on-one meetings, project teams, work groups, conference calls, and off--site retreats.

These approaches mean nothing.

It turns out that tools are not the reason that organizations struggle with internal communication. It has nothing to do with technology, too many meetings, or hectic travel schedules. Effective internal communication is actually based on one simple concept...

Leadership commitment.

The reality of the world of work is that leaders make the decisions, set expectations, and hold the team accountable. If internal communication is going to improve it will be driven by leadership's commitment to making it happen. But how?

1. Ask your team how they want to be communicated with and do what they say. Don't tell them it's not convenient, or the system 'can't do that' or that it will take too much time.

2. Hold them accountable to actively participate in the communication process. After all, internal communication is a shared responsibility.


Get Started...Now
Look up from your computer. Do you see the door? Walk through it and start talking to the employees in your organization and ask them what communication channels work best for them. Build your list and implement what you've heard. Remind them that you're doing it and that you fully expect them to do their part too.

How About You
It's about time we looked at internal communication as a leadership responsibility instead of a leadership excuse. Use multiple channels (your team will generate the list for you), and get moving. Don't spare anyone in this process, because every employee matters.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Ghosts of War (for talent)

The ultra-competitive  environment to source, attract and hire talent is fascinating. So many organizations lament the fact that they can not find the "right" people to meet their needs. 

Yet these same organizations continue to use the same old and ineffective approaches to talent acquisition; or they are being taken advantage of by large vendors that throw around lots of terminology but fail to execute effectively on behalf of their clients.

I'm calling B.S. on both approaches!

Desperate and Scared
For years I've seen organizations that know they need to implement contemporary strategies as part of their talent strategy, but doing so represents such a quantum leap out of their comfort zone that they are paralyzed with fear.

"Leaders who fail to make bold decisions are usually not leaders for very long."
The ghosts of yesteryear continue to haunt these well intended leaders. Think about the good old days of display ads in the Sunday paper. Now that was living in your comfort zone! Sadly, there really isn't a Sunday paper anymore, right?

Now Is Your Time
The opportunities available to today's talent acquisition leader are endless. The ability to position your organization as a high-performing, contemporary leader in your industry is not as hard as you think. 

Yes it takes expertise, courage and commitment. But isn't that in every leader's job description anyway?

How About You
Do you believe in ghosts? If so, maybe you and I should talk. I want to help...and it sounds like you might need to exorcise a few demons.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Funeral Hymn

"I've always wanted to do that."
- said everyone who ever lived

How many times have we heard this line? How many times have we said it? It's funny that we put so much effort into our careers, and yet as we learn and grow as professionals we feel we must embrace our titles or industries to define who "we are."


Wait, what?

When you look back at who you were at 15, 25, 35, 45, 55....were you the same person at every age? Did your view of the world change? Did your life experiences shape how you made decisions and chose to behave?

Of course they did. But when it comes to our career path, we often fall into the trap that our title or profession "is" who we are, no matter what we learn or experience or become interested in.

Want To vs. Will Do
Obviously there is a big difference between "always wanting to sky dive" as a bucket list to do item, and "always wanting to work in a different industry or role." The bucket list is for focus is on the latter point.

It takes courage to admit that you could do more...and make a move that is unsettling at best, and downright scary at worst. (or is the scary part the best? Hmmm)

When you consider the incredible number of hours, training, networking, reading, writing and learning you've done over the years it will be difficult to justify that you aren't prepared to make a bold move and follow what you enjoy doing, and that you're good at.

Bold moves are the best moves.

If you're already doing what you absolutely love, then be the best. Push yourself to contribute in a way that you never thought about in the past. There are no limits, so think big.

"Too Late" Is For Wimps
Have you convinced yourself that it is too late to make the move you can't stop thinking about? I just made a bold move after twenty years in the same industry. I changed everything because I learned new things and realized I wanted to follow a different path.

I put together a plan, and worked that plan. You can too. Get out your iPad and start listing what you really want to do. Identify what you're good at, and confirm your list with friends and colleagues.

There is absolutely nothing holding you back.

How About You
It is not time for the funeral hymn on your career to play. Now is your time take your career and your personal satisfaction to a whole new level. Stop waiting...start next year at this time you'll be DOING!

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.


Monday, February 16, 2015

The Enemy Inside

"I'm running from the enemy inside..."

I go through periods of time when life seems to be moving so fast, hitting me from every direction, and at a pace that could be considered too much to handle. Some might even think that retreating and shutting down would be a reasonable response.

Except I've recently discovered I'm not wired to let all of that action become a distraction. What happens though is probably not a sustainable response...even by my somewhat skewed  - shall we say 'uptempo' - view of the world.

When life hits me hard...I hit back. It takes a variety of forms ranging from working harder, writing more, working out multiple times per day, eating even more clean than I already do, and thinking bigger about the future.
So I've been processing about whether or not my "charge into battle" response makes sense or not. The deeper I go with this...the more I'm realizing that I don't retreat...ever. Candidly, I don't think moving 100 mph every day is necessarily the best plan. Was I always this way?

"...looking for the life I left behind..."

When do my mind and body rest? When do my big plans, punishing workouts, and obsession with every gram of food (literally) get put to the side so I can rest and recharge?

What is the proper response when you are accustomed to handling things in a certain way?

Habits Are Hard to Break
I'm not going to lie. I am absolutely dialed in to going full throttle when challenges come at me. I need to find the balance between an all out epic battle with life; and instead, pivot and use downtime for my mind and body as an intentional strategy.

Always getting fired up about kicking ass when life is in your face may sound cool, but sustaining a constant battle-ready mindset just doesn't work 24/7.

"...these suffocating memories are etched upon my mind..."

How About You
What do you do when life comes at you from all sides. Have you figured out how to take some time each day to collect your thoughts and regroup? Or, is it an all out epic struggle for supremacy?

"....and I can not escape from the enemy inside..."

For me, I love the battle, but I'm going to start integrating some downtime too. It just might help me kick life back even harder than before.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

The Only Corporate Strategy That Matters

I think I've said the word culture 1,000 times in the last twelve months. I'm not kidding. It's such an important part of every organization that I'm surprised more companies aren't doing something about it.

I realize there are lots of executives talking about culture, but it is rare when they execute on a culture strategy. However, talk is cheap and we've all built up a tolerance for the corporate values messaging that bombards us at every turn.

"Seriously, has anyone ever heard a company espouse their commitment to providing crappy customer service with their team of pathetic employees?"

So what is the opportunity to differentiate your company from the competition if you truly have a culture that is unique, and dare I say different from others in your industry?

Money Talks
Start with investing in it. It is easy to determine where an organization's priorities are simply by checking their financials. Are culture, brand, and developing a revolutionary talent strategy high on that priority list? If so, the results will blow away the competition.

Talent is code for people. Culture is code for people. Brand is code for people. Success is achieved by people. Are you with me?

That's how commitment works. That's how execution works. That's how success is realized in the modern world. It's the people that make the difference and make the values proposition come to life.

How About You
If you're tired of talking about culture and want to differentiate your organization's commitment to culture, check out this site. Then go, lead the way in your own company and make a real difference.

I'd love to hear from you.

No Excuses.